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Elements of Southern Gothic Literature

An Overview of Seven Key Elements of American Southern Gothic Literature

John Cowlin

on 8 January 2014

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Transcript of Elements of Southern Gothic Literature

SOUTHERN GOTHIC ELEMENTS OF LITERATURE SOUTHERN GOTHIC LITERATURE ELEMENTS OF The gothic novel tries to evoke chilling terror and gloom by exploiting mystery and horror. Gothic is about HAUNTING and POSSESSION - if not literally, then figuratively. We are supposed to feel a CHILL at some point in the story, and this emotional response is in part the point of the gothic experience. Paradoxically, this FEAR is a source of PLEASURE "Tis so appalling--it exhilarates," Emily Dickinson says in a poem. Gustave Dore In a Gothic work, there is usually confusion about good and evil. What does ‘good’ actually mean? What about ‘evil’? And how can we tell the difference? Gothic reveals a fear of institutions. Institutions such as religion, education, and marriage are portrayed as the end of the road, not the beginning. American Gothic by Grant Wood Gothic shows the dark and hidden side of things. It rips open the LIES and shows a world of CRUELTY, LUST, PERVERSION, and CRIME hidden beneath society’s rules and customs. Screamin' Jay Hawkins Gothic tears through censorship and explodes hypocrisies. It exposes the world as a CORRUPT and REEKING place. Riverend (1989) Gothic is a reaction to the conventional, common sense, and enlightened world. If society is supposed to be orderly and sensible, gothic shows how it really isn’t. Dorothea Lang Southern gothic tips stereotypes on their side and kicks them in the gut. Southern belles are crafty and greedy, chivalrous gentlemen are sneaky and perverse, and righteous preachers are manipulative and evil. Night of the Hunter (1955)
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